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Beartown Audiobook

Beartown

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Publisher's Summary

The number-one New York Times best-selling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream - and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made, and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

©2017 Fredrik Backman (P)2017 S&S Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (582 )
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4.6 (544 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-28-17
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-28-17 Member Since 2017

    SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Barrel To The Head, A Slug To The Gut--"

    This is the story of one young person putting the barrel of a shotgun to the head of another young person. It's the story of how big dreams die hard and little, more tender dreams die even harder. This is not your usual Fredrik Backman book; it has none of the fanciful tenderness, the sentimentality. It's a hard-hitting look at what a town, what its people, what its children will do when the worst happens and you realize you are alone, just you and your ability to look your children in the face saying, "I couldn't protect you", you and your ability to look in the mirror saying, "What does it mean to be human?"
    I expected more of a "Miracle on Ice" component but I was sorely wrong and quite happy about it. Backman takes the love of parents, friends, siblings and piles it on; takes the tension and ratchets it up, notch by painful notch until you have nothing to do but look inside yourself and wonder if you can stand any more pain, any more human frailty, any more doubt when there are so many, many shades of gray.
    Marin Ireland has a brittle tone, and I wondered why a male narrator wasn't gotten until I realized that the many female characters wouldn't have been done justice to. Ireland gets it right, plus she does male characters quite well. What's more: She doesn't stilt on the passion, and this is a passionate story.
    If you're ready for a journey into the heart, mind, soul of a teenager get ready and dive in. If you're ready for a slap in the face, the realization that you'll do anything, anything for your children but be able to keep them safe, tip your toes in and go gently, inhaling as much as possible.
    Backman's prose, his story, his style are breathtaking.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanne 05-09-17
    Jeanne 05-09-17
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    "Wish narrator were Swedish"

    I love Backman's book. He creates entire towns and envelopes the reader in their world. This story is no different, but the narrator is obviously American or Canadian, and I don't feel quite as transported to Sweden as I did in each of his other novels. In fact, until one of the characters said "kroner," I thought the book was set in America. (At first I thought Canada, but then a character moves to Canada.)

    Don't let me mislead you, the narrator is an excellent reader; I just don't think she was the right choice for this novel. I still recommend the book though.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 04-27-17
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 04-27-17 Member Since 2010

    Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.

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    "Bang . . . Bang . . . Bang"

    Bang – the impact of pucks and players slamming into the boards. Bang - the collision of opposing visions for a town and its beloved hockey team. Bang – conflicting emotions of children trying to fit in with the group while remaining distinctly individual. Bang – the devastating realization that parents just cannot protect their children from forces they can neither foresee nor control. Bang – Running headlong into the desperation and hypocrisy that has formed the character of an entire community, and how it must come to grips with their values when their world explodes because of one senseless act. Bang - the sound of guns in the forest.

    A bright unforgiving light is turned on the worship of sports heroes, what it does to the young athletes, what it does to a community that places inhuman burdens on young shoulders to succeed for the glory of the town, and how those who don’t drink the kool-aid are marginalized, even dehumanized. This is a more sobering story than his previous novels, having little of the usual quirky humor to lighten the tone. The opening lines hit hard, setting an expectation of coming trouble, but then eases into a leisurely introduction to a vast cast of characters who will drive the story forward. The sentinel event doesn’t occur until half way through the book, so patience is required in spite of the building tension. Pay attention to the details of who these people are. It informs their reactions and behavior later on. But don’t cling to your early judgements. Once again Fredrik Backman has proved to have an astounding insight into human nature. His characters are realistically complex and he handles all of them – even the worst of them – with honesty and compassion. There are no easy answers when survival is on the line, and especially when parents are fighting for their children. This is not a depressing tale, but an enlightening one and one with the potential to spark conversation and self assessment.

    The reading by Marin Ireland is perfect for all ages, genders and character. Another home run for this author.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Martin 05-19-17 Member Since 2017
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    "good and not so good"

    characters were interesting, the plot held my attention but the whole thing could have been told more effectively without the ponderous wisdom that the author imposed on the story. it violates the first rule of fiction: show don't tell. he does both.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DobieChuck Colorado 04-27-17
    DobieChuck Colorado 04-27-17 Member Since 2017

    Blind listener reading everything, especially mystery/thrillers and sf&f. Restricted to audio so picky where credits spent. #BooksRule

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    "Captivating"

    A superbly wrought small town portrait complete w/ requisite dichotomies and truths... The novel starts w/ a bang, literally... The story grabs you, then takes you on a stroll through village life/lives on the edge... It's not a fast moving book, rather it's like typical small town life, leisurely and thoughtful... Lightness balanced against subtle and insinuating darkness, The marginalized vs glorified, team and town, things hidden/revealed, etc... The peer pressure is real and frightening, for both kids and adults... Betrayals actual and perceived... Some powerful and emotional subject matter that is both uncomfortable and provocative, yet simultaneously uplifting and restorative... The setting is believable, and the tone sucks you in w/o your realizing it until you're in deep... It shows us our shortcomings, specifically pride, and isn't bashful about shining the spotlight down... It's also a story of friendship, and what that really means... Love, and agree, w/ the concept of our best friends being those we meet when we're 15... Rich and multi-dimensional characters... You'll love many, hate a few, and flip back and forth on some as the plot thickens... The last third of the book is full of choke up happenings, and admittedly points where the room gets a bit dusty;). This book is right up there w/ A Man Called Ove, and that's one of my all time faves of mainstream fiction... If you can't like this story I'd go on a scavenger hunt for a heart and soul;).

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Vidal Sierra Vista, AZ. 05-06-17
    Laura Vidal Sierra Vista, AZ. 05-06-17 Member Since 2015
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    "It's a rare case of 4 winners in a row"

    Reading 4 books by the same author and finding them all a great read is something that doesn't happen very often to me. Backman is one of the few exceptions.
    This one has everything, an interesting profoundly human story, some humor and drama at the same time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Mo 04-27-17
    Holly Mo 04-27-17
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    "Backman Can Write Any Point of View!"

    I've read most of Backman's books, and this author is amazingly talented. When I read "A Man Called Ove," I thought, this guy must know my daughters and their grandfathers, because the characters' interactions are spot on. When I read, "Britt-Marie Was Here," I thought, he must know an older woman who felt discarded, because she seems so real. In "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry," I assumed he must have lived in an apartment building where his neighbors represented, all walks of life, because each character was alive and unique. Now, in "Beartown," I jokingly conclude that he is in fact a pseudonym for what must be a team of authors, each specializing in writing a certain point of view, because his representation of the human teenager was very accurate.

    "Beartown" is about so many things: parenthood, navigating being a teen, the desperation that can engulf a small town into pack mentality. It touches on retirement and how it effects a sense of purpose. We see immeasurable loss, beating the odds, perseverance, abuse, revenge, forgiveness...and so much more.

    From the above paragraph, you may think those are too many subjects to tackle in one book, but Backman makes it flow naturally and realistically.

    At times, I felt that he was bordering on over description in regards to each character's inner thoughts, but as I read on, I came to appreciate the time he took to bring the reader into the characters' heads. Some may feel that the following is a spoiler, but I want to explain what I mean with an example, therefore, I'll preface the next section.

    *Possibly could be considered a spoiler*

    At one point, some boys throw a rock with an expletive written on it through a window. The mother/wife gets in her car and scares the boys in a way that could be perceived as unstable. But the reader has been inside her head. We've seen what she's been through. She's endured unimaginable loss. Outwardly, she seems abrasive and uncompromising, but the reader knows how much she has sacrificed for those she loves. You feel her desperation and helplessness and anger. Despite knowing how wrong it would have been, had she actually caused permanent damage, I found myself cheering her on; then, when she came to her senses, so did I. She wasn't insane; she had a temporary moment of insanity. Backman took a lot of time to get us inside her mind, and it allows the reader to understand her irrational behavior.

    *End of possible spoiler*

    What I like best about the book is the multiple layers given to each character. We see tough guys in moments of sensitivity. We see sensitive guys finding their strengths. It is easy to dismiss a character as universally shallow, until we see the character in a different environment and we watch them bloom into someone we'd like to know. Heroes make selfish/life altering choices and bullies evolve into better people.

    I especially like the ending, because it felt so complete that I actually exhaled. This is a great book for discussion, and I'm encouraging my teen daughters to read it. The narrator's performance was spectacular in the audio version. I highly recommend it!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebekah Lee 05-03-17
    Rebekah Lee 05-03-17
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    "Everything that I wanted it to be."

    I've declared Fredrik Backman my favorite author since A Man Called Ove. With each of his new books I'm both nervous and excited to start each one. Nervous that it's not going to be what I'm hoping it to be, and excited that it will be. Beartown does disappoint. I only wish I'd discovered him as an author in 10 years time so I wouldn't have to wait between books.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tara Bilbao 05-04-17
    Tara Bilbao 05-04-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Could Not Put this One Away"
    Would you listen to Beartown again? Why?

    Yes. This is such a great story on multiple levels - small town relationships, the incredible dedication of athletes, the craziness of sport parents and of course an explosive subject matter. Backman's character development is excellent as always.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Beartown?

    I would say in the end, how a girl takes matters into her own hands. ( I don't want to spoil the ending)


    What does Marin Ireland bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great narration and voices.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It did all of the above. It made me laugh, made me angry, made me sad, made me apprehensive and in the end somewhat satisfied.


    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crista 05-23-17
    Crista 05-23-17 Member Since 2012

    Mom. Lawyer. Bookclub nerd. Multi-tasker. Audible fan.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Ove ..."

    First let me say that "A Man Called Ove" is in my top 10 reads of all time! Loved it! This however, is not Ove. This is a much darker, more plodding and difficult story. It entirely lacks the whimsy of Ove. The writing style is similar in that it jumps storylines in short paragraphs/chapters throughout. However, that style doesn't work nearly as well in BearTown as it did in Ove. There are too many characters, too many back stories, and too many "are these details important to the storyline?" to keep track of.

    The book does grab you in its opening lines, with the gun shot. We spend the balance of the story trying to piece together who might be involved in that "incident". However, the first half to the book is just dull. And I love hockey! (and you'd better love hockey if you are going to sit through BearTown). The second half of the book picked up and grappled with some moral/ethical issues that were of note and interest. The ending was "meh".

    The narrator was an odd choice. There were times when I enjoyed her performance (in teenage intonation) and times when it just didn't seem appropriate to have a female narrator. The narrator was tinged with sarcasm, and I'm not sure whether that is just this narrator's style (this is my first listen with her) or if it was applied on purpose.

    In any event, I gave this read an average rating. Skip this one and read Ove instead!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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